Retroactive Transfer Phenomena in Alternating User Interfaces
We investigated retroactive transfer when users alternate between different interfaces. Retroactive transfer is the influence of a newly learned interface on users' performance with a previously learned interface. In an interview study, participants described their experiences when alternating between different interfaces, e.g. different operating systems, devices or techniques. Negative retroactive transfer related to text entry was the most frequently reported incident. We then reported a laboratory experiment that investigated the impact of similarity between two abstract keyboard layouts, and the number of alternations between them, on retroactive interference. Results indicated that even small changes in the interference interface produced a significant performance drop for the entire previously learned interface. The amplitude of this performance drop decreases with the number of alternations. We suggest that retroactive transfer should receive more attention in HCI, as the ubiquitous nature of interactions across applications and systems requires users to increasingly alternate between similar interfaces.